The House Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee today approved the Pension Protection Act, introduced earlier this month by Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. The bill was approved by a voice vote despite concerns voiced by lobbyists representing employers. It now goes before the full committee. The House Education and the Workforce Committee, which Mr. Boehner chairs, is expected to vote on the bill June 29.
The bill seeks to tighten pension funding rules and raise PBGC premiums, although it offers employers some concessions from the administration's much tougher approach.
"If you offer a defined benefit pension plan, you need to put your money where your mouth is," said Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, co-sponsor of the bill and subcommittee chairman. "It is time we put the brakes on over-promising and underfunding. The Pension Protection Act meets these objectives, and is consistent with the proposal put forth by the Bush administration."
Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who also co-sponsored the bill, is expected to fold the legislation into a larger Social Security bill along with other retirement plan provisions.
Separately, American Airlines employees who are members of the Allied Pilots Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union rallied on Capitol Hill today in support of the bill.
"We are asking for a sensible approach to pension legislation that does not undo the hard work of the employees and management of American Airlines to restore our company and preserve our retirement plans," the coalition said in a statement issued at the rally. The bill most closely reflects the views of the employees, labor unions and management of American Airlines, the statement said. The coalition urged lawmakers to strengthen the pension system without harming viable plans such as those of American Airlines.